Back in 1948, Minnesota was the first state to declare an official Co-op Month proclamation. Co-op Month has been celebrated annually in October across the U.S. ever since. It’s a time for cooperative businesses like the St. Peter Food Co-op to reflect on their shared principles and to educate others about the value of belonging to a cooperative.
There are more than 40,000 cooperative businesses in the United States with 350 million members (many people belong to more than one co-op). These cooperatives generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, with support from USDA Rural Development.
Co-ops represent democracy in action, with control exercised by a board of directors elected from the ranks of members; the board hires and directs management and is ultimately responsible to the members. Because of this, Co-ops don’t have to answer to outside shareholders—they care about meeting their members’ needs.
Co-ops generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local, and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience.